Lagoon Nature Walk

Funded by a generous grant from the Meadows Foundation, the Leonhardt Lagoon is an ecologically-balanced aquatic community. Visitors are encouraged to explore the lagoon sculpture, discover the fascinating world of exotic plants such as lizard’s tail, cypress knees, and duckweed, and to observe this special habitat that is home to more than 70 species of birds, such as the least bittern and chimney swift.

The Leonhardt Lagoon, named after philanthropist Dorothea Leonhardt, was built with Federal WPA (Work Progress Administration) funds in 1936, at the site of the Texas Centennial Exposition. By the 1970’s, the lagoon had become choked with algae fed by fertilizer runoff from the nearby grounds area surrounding the museums as well as silt from the erosion of the lagoon's banks. Its food chain had become unbalanced because of an over abundance of vegetation. Since 1983, the lagoon has been drained, excess vegetation cleaned out, and native Texas plants introduced to restore the ecological balance in the lagoon. A sculpture, reflective of nature, was built to create an environment to be experienced and explored, while providing an interesting way for visitors to see the lagoon's plant and animal life. Artist Pat Johanson, was commissioned to develop environmental sculptures for the lagoon. The sculpture, competed in 1986, is built of gunite, a type of concrete sprayed over a steel foundation. Crushed firebrick was mixed with the concrete to create its vivid terra-cotta color. Comprised of two segments at the north and south ends of the lagoon, its curling fronds are glimpsed through the drooping foliage of the bald cypress trees that line the water's edge.

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